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Saturday, December 31, 2011

"The Faces of Angels" by Lucretia Grindle ~ Florence, Italy, A Gothic and Boggy Book!

Published by:  Felony & Mayhem, LLC/Macmillan UK
Pages: 436
Genre:  Fiction/Suspense/Mystery

Cover Rating :
Perfectly telling about the book!  The chiaroscuro fade of dark and light smudge on the ancient architecture and foliage leading into a dark grove, hint of mystery and danger in an old-world city. The young woman is comparatively small and has hands bound behind her back, obviously saying she's vulnerable, not completely free, and has been or is in danger.  This all lets us know it has to be a murder or suspense novel.

Script is beautiful, particularly as its flourish reminds us that angels are lofty, heavenly creatures.  This would appeal to women in particular--probably the target reader/audience. 

I would like to have seen the name of the book given top billing instead of the author, who is a lesser known one.  The title nearly fades into the background.  I would switch the author and the book name placement.

I like the swath of deep red across the front.

An "B+" rating

The Book in a Nutshell :

Set in Florence, Italy, this is a suspense thriller having to do with an American art student who is attacked and tortured by a masked assailant when she wanders off the sight-seeing path into a dark glade. Her husband is murdered in an attempt to rescue her.  This flight off the path symbolizes Mary's reckless and curious nature which intensifies the tension and suspense throughout the novel.  The title of the book hints at the multiple faces of "angels."

Mary/Maria returns to Florence a couple of years after her physical recovery ostensibly to continue her studies, and to reunite with the lover she had just met before her attack.  However, the under-current of her return lies in the unrelenting obsession Mary has with resolving who her torturer really was, why he tortured and murdered other women...and what their similarities are.

She is also driven by the need to know if her attacker was actually caught and killed after he tortured her.  She has doubts.  Then she's horrified and set spinning as a rash of new, similar murders begins to crop up.  Is there a copy-cat serial killer, or was the original murderer never really caught?

"The Faces of Angels" is a novel with a clever plot and a perfectly rich setting for art history and gothic intrigue. Lucretia Grindle is a fine writer.  I liked her story.  A love of architecture and details of great masterpieces in Florence and surrounding countryside makes this book an intimate sort of travelogue. Those things are well and good, and may draw a readership in and of themselves.

What didn't work was the pace of the story.  It was slow and was completely mired in unnecessary details.

While Ms Grindle creates strong, engaging characters who act out quite believable scenarios and remain consistent in their roles, they become almost boring in sluggish surrounding details.  Too much information not necessary to the plot, and several characters who are superfluous  weigh heavily.  Florentine beauty is one thing, but too much is nearly devastating to this book.

In a capsule, the good things about the novel: characterization, setting, plot, mystery; all nearly died-on-the-vine because of the "wordiness," and I don't like that experience in reading.  This novel hit stall in the bulk of itself.  Making this another difficult call to rate as a reviewer.

I cannot recommend "The Faces of Angels" without reservations.  My readers need to be aware...  I did read to the end because I wanted to know the answer to the mystery, but it took some persistence!

3.5 stars with reservations

P.S. :  A nitpick:  The author's very frequent use of the word "anyways" drove me up a wall!  She used it as an expression for all of her characters no matter what region they came from in the US, or whether they were Italian, Japanese or English. This destroyed the "voice" of the author for me.



Sounds like there is a lot happening plot-wise. What a pity about the distracting faults, particularly the misuse of "anyways". Wonder where her editor was?

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